Showing posts with label teotwawki. Show all posts
Showing posts with label teotwawki. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Christmas, Mayan Doomsday and Life

Well it is almost Christmas. Sure I will say something closer but I hope you are all having good times. This is that time when nothing is really happening anywhere and we're all just getting ready for Christmas. Between Christmas and Kiddo #2 coming we are pretty busy.

If you watched the news today the whole Assault Weapons Ban thing was a hot topic. I've been preparing for such a thing for awhile now. Still going to sprint towards a potential finish is the way to end up with the best situation possible. I'm trying not to get stewed up over something that isn't under my control or influence.

Those Mayans were sure nice to schedule the end of the world for a Friday though maybe Sunday would have been better. More concerning than a dead civilizations arguable end of the world prophesy are the people who believe the world is going to end. We will be staying home on Friday to avoid the potentially dangerous yahoos.

With lots of heady stuff going on I am trying to enjoy time with family during the holidays and limit my worries to what is within my sphere of influence. Also we picked up some egg nog today which is cool. Tomorrow we will probably make sugar cookies and if everything works out I will be testing out the new AR lower receiver while dialing in the zero on the ole ACOG. Trigger time is good for the nerves and I like being around gun people.

Merry Christmas

Friday, May 25, 2012

Reader Questions: Military Families when SHTF

I’m 64 and doing well on prepping. New home in Idaho is almost ready and will be able to sustain myself/wife, son # 1 family (3 people) and son #2 (3 people).
Son #1 lives in Seattle and is 1.5 tanks of gas away. He always has extra gas so, with any warning, he can make it to my place fine.
Son # 2 is a CPT at Ft. Carson, Colorado and is 3+ tanks of gas away.
Having served in the Army, I know that during extreme times, Son #2 will be required to stay with his unit and he will comply. Even with some warning about a SHTF event, sending his wife and small child alone to Idaho is not realistic if the gas supply en-route could be in any way compromised. Sending me down to pick her up, needing 7 tanks of gas for the round trip is not realistic either.
Other than bugging in, or getting lucky with lots of warning so your family can drive to safety, how do military families deal with this?
I’m not sure if your readers would be interested in your answer, but feel free to publish this letter.

TOR here:
Well Ron, You bring up an interesting question. I see it breaking into 2 distinct pieces; bugging out and the military component. Addressing them separately and then touching on how one affects the other makes the most sense to me.

I am generally pretty skeptical about plans that require really long drives. Obviously closer is better but if it is a serious social/ population/ setting change you need 5 (or sometimes even 50) miles  will not cut it. I would be mildly concerned about a plan that required driving 250 miles and pretty concerned about one that required driving 500. Admittedly those numbers are somewhat arbitrary though they could be broken down to 1 and 2 tanks of gas. In any case.

It should go without saying that you should be ready to leave quickly if circumstances permit, have ample (2x what it normally takes seems prudent if arbibtary) fuel on hand and multiple routes planned.

In addition to sheer physical difference we have to do some route analysis. I could talk about military acronym's here as they are often how I organize my thinking but I don't really feel like it. So let's just keep it simple. Population centers and choke points are bad. Wide empty roads through the middle of nowhere with lots of bypass routes are good.

For example in the case of Son #1 since I am more familiar with that area. His chances of success increase considerably if he gets out of Seattle, which is a nightmare with all of it's bridges, exponentially when he gets over the Cascades and are looking pretty good (if he goes that way which is likely) after crossing the Columbia river.

Son #2 obviously has a pretty long drive. Without a lot of personal knowledge of that area or doing any research I would say the drive could be better and could be worse. On the plus side the population density is pretty low but on the downside there may be some real terrain issues with choke points, particularly in winter. 

I hesitate to use the word luck but there are certainly risk factors inherant of such plans. While carrying enough 5 gallon cans to make the drive is possible it is a long way and I would at least look at setting up a cache or two along the way. Also keep PLENTY of cash on hand, who cares if gas is $50 a gallon if you can drive the whole way. Assuming sufficient fuel is  available from storage/cache/purchase, the weather is not an issue and that things are not totally crazy with every municipality setting up road blocks and gangs of roving criminals ambushing cars this sort of plan stands a fair to reasonable chance of success.

As to the military and how it relates to this whole thing. There are a couple posts in my head which address larger issues so this will be relatively narrow in scope.

Whether he would be ordered to stay on duty would depend on a lot of factors. If he should decide to comply with these orders or to desert is another question with it's own set of factors. For the sake of this discussion let us briefly hit the high points of each options.

He stays on duty. This is the most realistic answer for most situations. This may mean staying local or it is quite likely that he may leave to be part of some sort of military response. This means that his family can either stay in the area bugging in at home or on post or bug out without him.

He deserts. If things get totally absolutely crazy nobody is going to come looking for him any way. He comes home with the family. Then agan if things get that bad it might not be the time for a 1,500 mile family road trip. Staying with a huge cohesive group of well armed and trained individuals might not be a terrible way to go anyway.

As a middle ground he might be able to wrangle a period of leave or a pass to run the folks up to you and then come back. If his boss likes him and the area is quiet it might work and is certainly worth asking about. Should he happen to infer that one way or another he is driving the fam up to Idaho they may like the option where he comes back afterword.

In any case getting out of Dodge before things go nuts is seriously advisable. Waiting long enough makes a decision by default. The fam can always go up for a "vacation" if some of your warning signs start getting met. At least they would be secure and he could reassess and decide what to do for himself down the road.

As to the military's particular challenges as it relates to this discussion. We move all over the place. If I wasn't in the Army we would live in the quiet and empty part of the PNW which would make a lot of things much simpler. To further complicate things we move often which necessitates changing or reinventing plans every few years. This is just a hassle and complicates the time and expense of things. Let us say that Son #2 was a home depot manager or whatever in Colorado for the long term or essentially permenantly. Son #2's emergency plan is to come to your place. He plans some routes and buys a couple of conveniently located but discrete pieces of junk land along the way. With some time and energy you could probably do it for a couple grand. He stashes a bunch of fuel, some fluids, water, food and ammo at them. While the long bug out problem is not fixed it is greatly simplified because you do not need to haul everything for the trip or (a long shot) buy it enroute. See where I am going? Doing that once wouldn't be a big deal but every 2-3 years it might get a bit crazy.

At some point, a point I think Son #2 is approaching but not quite at, you have got to be realistic that getting home is not a plan with a reasonable, let alone good, chance of success. Getting from FT Drum, New York to Arizona is not likely. Getting from FT Lewis, Washington to South Carolina is not likely. In this sort of situation I would put time and energy into developing plans that are in ones current region. While that isn't a fun answer it is probably reality.

Anyway those are my thoughts on that. I hope it helps or at least drums up some useful conversation.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Welcoming Our Newest Advertiser- Joshua

Today I would like to welcome our newest advertiser Joshua. It is a book about a man and a young boy trying to make it during a long term collapse. The first 5 chapters are available free to read which is pretty cool. The book bears some slight similarities to The Road in that a man and a boy are making their way through a crazy total end of the world type situation but it really ends there. As a distinct difference this book doesn't make we want to drink a bottle of scotch and stick a handgun in my mouth.

 Please go check out the free chapters and see if the book interests you. I do not think you will be disappointed. I will be reading the whole thing once I finish up a couple other books which have been waiting for awhile.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Reader Question: SHTF Hygiene and Clothes Washing

I have an idea for a blog article-or several- that I think you may be uniquely qualified to expound on. There are a vast majority of us that have never, or are unable to, serve in the military.
You're active duty military; what I and many others would like to know, is how you do your day to day maintenance while out in the field, away from all the comforts of home.
I think it would make a good read if you could tell us the necessities of our life if TSHTF and we are suddenly without water, electricity or heat. We know much about sponge bathing, washing in tubs with a wash board and making our own soap, but how do you do it while trying to stay out of the field of fire/ being discovered?
How do you wash your personal clothing(skivvies, socks, BDU's, etc.) when out in the field?
If you do these things, what do you use to wash them in and what do you use for detergent? How do you clean yourself, and with what?
So please give this some thought and see if it is an idea you would be willing to tackle.
Iron Tom Flint
TOR here, I wrote a couple posts that give us a place to start. This post on field hygiene covers part of the topic pretty decently. Also this post on Dysentery, while a bit light hearted is worth checking out. Also here is one on primative laundry.  Now onto the specific questions.
Q: We know much about sponge bathing, washing in tubs with a wash board and making our own soap, but how do you do it while trying to stay out of the field of fire/ being discovered?
A: Staying out of the field of fire is easy, if people are shooting at you or immenently going to shoot at you it is not the time to do laundry. Sorry if that was a bit short, from here forth I will try to answer the questions as I believe they are intended, not word for word.
For short term stuff I would use my field hygiene advice from above. Typically military operations are short enough in duration that laundry isn't a huge issue; though that is a relative term as I have worn a single uniform for a month without washing it. Another option is that things are so crazy that you have bigger stuff to worry about. Delaying washing is easier when weather is relatively cold. You would be pretty nasty after wearing the same clothes in the South or Middle East in the summer.
As to avoiding being discovered. If I was really worried about someone discovering me I wouldn't be doing laundry. I definitely wouldn't do laundry in some sort of escape and evasion situation, a hide or a patrol base.  That being said a really small fire made of dry wood (especially in the woods or down in some micro terrain) is pretty hard to see from beyond 50-100 meters. All you would really need is enough to heat up some water which doesn't take a bonfire.
However to make it easier lets say you are in a fairly quiet but non permissive enviornment. Maybe you and the spouse are trying to get somewhere on foot or using forest service roads and obviously don't want any attention. Maybe you are some sort of G and folks are sort of passively patroling your area, doing recon patrols to check out movement, signs of people like fires, etc. Whatever, it really doesn't matter. The point is that you aren't imminently worried about people trying to kill you but do want to keep a low profile.
One simple and old school option is to take a bar of soap and your clothes into a body of water and wash them. This has the benefit of washing your body. Obviously your situation would have to be reasonably secure and this is a lot more fun in 80 degree sunshine than 30 degree snow. I have seen socks washed in canteen cups, I suppose the same could be done with underoos. Also the good old bucket or a dedicated water jug (the military ones have pretty big mouths) works.
Q:How do you wash your personal clothing(skivvies, socks, BDU's, etc.) when out in the field?
A: Often the answer is to stash the dirty stuff and wash in after the operation is over. Other times we scrounge up some big tubs or whatnot. I have seen organizations where leaders bought some old school type laundry stuff to fill urgent needs.
Q: If you do these things, what do you use to wash them in and what do you use for detergent?
A: I have seen and used normal commercial detergent and plain old bar soap.
Q:How do you clean yourself, and with what?
A: Baby wipes are a great way to go. If heating up water is practical a washcloth and a bar of soap is nice and makes you feel a bit more human. As to how it is pretty much laid out here.
Anyway I hope that is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions. If you remember one thing take care of your feet.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book Review Shatter by TC Sherry

This is book two of the deep winter series. To recap the last book began in the winter with a massive earthquake and ended with some other problems. This book sort of skims over the tail end of winter and covers the spring and summer. During this book bad turns into worse. It becomes apparent that the Spokane region and the PNW in general are not going to receive help from the outside and things are not going to return to any sort of old normal.

The Good: This book, as well as the previous book, lays out a compelling vision for a very bad future.
To me it is sort of a “and then what” kind of book. So things went to heck in a hand basket, you get stuff set up initially and after a couple months most of the looters have been naturally selected AND THEN WHAT. Folks start figuring out how to feed themselves in the long term, trade, reorganize society and move forward. That is what this book is about.

Basically in the first book after the earthquake things internationally then nationally go to hell in a hand basket. The dollar collapses and there is war.  In this book things get even worse, and then worse again, like dealing with all that had happened in the first one wouldn’t be enough.

The book brought up some interesting stuff when it comes to property rights, scavenging and ethics. What has been bothering me in a couple books I have read recently, and to some degree the first book in this series is hypocrisy. In this book the main characters actions on the whole were IMO were pretty close to what they expected from others. I won’t say that I agreed with every thing that happened but on the whole it wasn’t offensive and was very thought provoking so that was good.

I think this issue gets complicated if there is a significant die off or long term population shift. There are definitely more questions than easy answers as far as I am concerned. If folks are dead or gone and heirs are not able to be located who does the property belong to? If your neighbor was visiting his cousin in Maine and the balloon goes up at what point do you decide he isn’t coming back? What happens to his stuff?
I think it is pretty clear that stuff which belongs to people who are present or realistically may be present is theirs. However if things get nuts enough that big companies fall apart and such who do their buildings, stores and equipment belong to? Some level of nationalization albeit at a city or county level is likely, at least with this sort of stuff and is probably fairly ethical.

I liked that government didn’t magically go away. It is really a pipe dream to think that some sort of government won’t exist, especially at the local level of city and county. It will hopefully change and help set the conditions for people to take care of their selves, or at least not cause any real problems in a new world though it could get nasty and totalitarian.

In this book there was a sort of barter network that morphed into a sort of general store. For somebody with a knack for that sort of thing, access to a suitable space and some stuff to sort of seed the effort it might not be a bad idea to take some notes about that part. That people were more interactive vs just staying at their homes alone was good I think. People have a tendency to be social animals and it is difficult if not impossible to produce everything you could need or want. It definitely reinforced the desirability of being able to produce, above and beyond your own needs, something which people want.

Personally I do not stock things specifically for barter. However that is at least in part because I am not quite there yet. If one was so inclined they could probably do pretty well with a few hundred dollars of the right stuff. Stuff like kerosene, lamps, .22 LR and small game shotgun loads, sewing stuff, matches, booze, etc.
This book is a good reminder that in many ways local government is more important than at a higher level. To paraphrase Ragnar Benson the county zoning or agricultural commission is far more likely to cause problems in your life than men dressed in black carrying MP-5’s from an alphabet soup agency. This is probably far truer in a long term serious situation as they will have a lot more freedom to maneuver. Bad local governments could turn into little fiefdom’s or Stalinist collective experiments very easily.  It was also illustrated in the book that if people don’t stand up to these things as a group they will inevitably get dealt with piece mill and picked off accordingly.

The Bad:
There was a distinct flavor of population and resource control. Think checkpoints and fuel usage restrictions, curfews, etc. I think these would likely be reality in this sort of situation but it isn’t something I particularly like.
Checkpoints I think would be a fine idea, probably a necessity so long as they didn’t hamper the free movement of individuals in the area and allowed some sort of through passage through for those who need to get someplace. It kind of rubbed me the wrong way that there were passes for people who were deemed special which of course included the main characters. Personally in that situation I would be awful curious about who the heck decided which people were special and what the heck they thought gave them the right to say they could move around freely but I could not. They really didn’t go into detail on exactly what these restrictions were or how they affected people who, unlike the main characters, were not deemed to be special, so I can’t say if I really have an issue parse.

Fuel restrictions I have a hard time with. Now if the local government has fuel and is distributing it then some prioritization to EMS, food production, etc makes sense. However telling someone what they can do with fuel they have is another thing. If someone has a 300 gallon fuel tank in the barn and a 74 stingray and wants to go drag racing down their driveway it really isn’t anybodies business but theirs and their neighbors.
A few things happened that were just a little bit too convenient. The main characters stumbled into some stuff in a way that was awful darn lucky. Not so much as to really mess up the book but enough not to show the benefits of having some things squared away beforehand or the downsides of not having them squared away.
The author talks badly about politicians and government officials who are anything other than perfect public servants and folks who said public positions carry privilege. However the main character definitely uses his position to his advantage a few times getting favoritism or special treatment that Joe down the block wouldn’t. It was government choosing winners and losers at a small local scale. Nothing nasty parse, more like good old boy stuff.

The Ugly:
Not really anything ugly about the book in the usual sense that something is worse than the bad. However the book did expose (which is a good thing and thus doesn’t really belong in the bad part) a couple of ugly and very real possibilities. The first is that a default on our debt would cause all sorts of international problems. It is the kind of thing that starts wars. Even if our country fell apart we have a huge and awesome military. Somebody who thought we were weakened and that they could take advantage or attack our allies might be making a very serious mistake. Even if we were pretty tired and confused we could wipe the floor with most countries.

The next is that some places would try to continue suckling from the teat of government. Big, blue rustbelt and New England cities come to mind.

Lastly the balance of government would go all out of whack. Everyone more or less marches to the same drum in normal times and any pull from individual organizations or departments is canceled out by checks and balances or equaled out by pull from other organizations. However as people and agencies had competing visions, conflict over resources and such things might get crazy. The usually boring game of whose budget and staffing will go up by 3%, whose will stay the same and who might (though it rarely happens) face cuts could turn into serious infighting, like 3rd world stuff. Also in a die off scenario the whole line of succession thing could fall apart pretty easily leaving the US without a clear leader.

The vision of massive cascade failures laid out in this series is compelling, disturbing and seemingly plausible. I was familiar with that concept but had never heard the phrase before.

In closing I enjoyed this book and recommend it to readers. It is definitely worth paying $5 for the electronic edition.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Does Preparing For TEOTWAWKI Cover All Other Scenarios?

I have heard it said that if you truly prepare for a genuine full on mad max scenario all the other scenarios are covered by default. I used to say that wasn't quite true. Now I would clarify by saying that it covers you for a lot (versus all) other scenarios.

Obviously if you are prepared for a genuine end of the world event then a power outage or even a Katrina like mid length regional disaster is just a practice drill. Having serious depth in food you normally eat will let you wait till sales to resupply and thus get more food for less money. If you have 15+ mags per gun, cases and cases of ammo as well as plenty of spare parts you are well positioned for any sort of gun ban.

However it is also worth noting what the TEOTWAWKI plan doesn't cover.

It completely ignores all sorts of highly likely financial/ unemployment/ slow slide issues. That Cold War mentality where the only option is that everything will go just fine until the world ends misses this one. You need to be concerned about your overall debt as well as savings for a rainy day. Can you afford your super spiffy retreat if you lose that high paying job? Even if your 'retreat' is paid off it is only yours so long as you can pay the property taxes.

Also I have a concern that this sort of planning can lead one not to worry about the progressively more violent world we are living in because you'll just carry a rifle everywhere if TEOTWAWKI happens. That sort of mentality isn't realistic. My real concern with this bionary approach is that it heavily weights things like owning rifles and stashing sand bags n barbed wire against more practical concerns like concealed carrying a pistol whenever possible and other more realistic home/ personal defense stuff.  You need to be worried a lot more about 2-3 armed criminals who are probably on drugs breaking into your place tonight a lot more than EU/ Russian/ Mexican soldiers enforcing world government upon you.

I think that if you keep a solid financial footing and put plenty of effort/ energy into preparing to defend yourself today then there is nothing wrong with the majority of your energy going toward the kind of worst case scenario deserving of a fiction novel.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Unconventional Family Housing

Different cultures and periods have dictated cultural norms that vary widely in terms of who lives with each other, when and for how long. For the sake of this discussion I am going to consider conventional housing being one or two adults that are married or otherwise together living with the minor (or close to minor) children of that couple. The other norm is adults that are friends or acquaintances (or just random's) living together to share expenses.

There have always been some exceptions to this relative cultural norm of contemporary post WWII America. In particular many immigrant groups and Hispanics have tended to stay together much longer and adult children living with parents. Three generation households are common if not the norm for these groups. Also among Americans young 'adult' children maybe living with their parents for awhile and older adults who need some assistance living with family have been consistent themes. The latter for economic subsidization and the former for help with everyday stuff. Toss in random fairly short term life circumstances like job losses, breakups/divorce, relocation, leaving the military, etc and you have captured most of the reasons people have traditionally chosen to reside with family. Sort of like there have always been a certain percentage of home foreclosures there have always been some unconventional family housing. Also like home foreclosures unconventional family housing is (I don't have statistics but I sure think) on the rise.

The Great Recession is proving to be particularly hard on young adults. Even the best laid plans for getting meaningful skills on the non college path takes time and generally starts with low wages. These days kids just starting out are often the first to get fired AND they are far less likely than in the past to get the kinds of jobs that allow for upward movement. You would have to be blind to not see a lot of young adults graduating from college and moving home because they can't find a professional job; or even a job that will pay rent and let them live independently.

These coupled with an increase in the overall rate of unemployment have put unconventional family housing on the rise, at least in my circle of friends and family. Some observations from successful and rocky situations are why I am writing this today.

Here are some considerations for unconventional family housing. It is important to remember that much more than a generic roommate situation there are social factors in play and it is a different dynamic. I think the biggest and most important thing is coming up with a detailed and specific written agreement prior to beginning living together or immediately after moving in. I just don't think this can be overstated as it will, if well thought out, prevent so many issues. Obviously in a case where one person is subsidizing the other (free or reduced rent, etc) the one doing the paying has a lot more say. I will refer to the two parties as supporting and benefiting for convenience. There are many different variables and factors in play and it matters less what is agreed upon than that there is an agreement. Here are some considerations.

-Do you even want to live with family? I've known family who have instead helped someone out financially. Also I know folks who have couch surfed or been the 5th guy in a 3 bedroom paying $50 a month to sleep on the floor (guy 4 had the couch). My advice is that if it is going to really be an uncomfortable situation to avoid it if at all possible.

- For approximately how long do you plan for it to last? Somebody staying for a couple weeks or a month until whatever happens is very different than a plan that could last months or years. This is important because how long it is anticipated to last really affects the amount of planning that should be done. On the short end a two minute conversation can work and on the long end some forethought and a series of detailed discussions could be wise. (More on this later.)

-Under what scenario are you willing to enter into this sort of arrangement? Are you willing to help the supporting party while they are in school or doing an apprenticeship or internship? Are you willing to support them until they earn enough to support their self? What about if they make an OK living but choose to spend their money on other things? What if they are between jobs? What if they are are in a low paying dead end job? What if they are waffling, sleeping late and partying a lot. I would strongly suggest thinking about this and talking about it with your partner BEFORE it comes up because odds are it will come up. My only advice on this is don't be afraid to lay down ground rules. If you are OK with someone living with you while they are in school, trying to find a job, saving for a down payment on a home or whatever then say so.

-Social arrangements are the next big sticking point. This is probably the most noticeable difference between living with family and a generic roomie arrangement. Broadly speaking it would benefit the supporting party to realize that everyone involved is an adult and it would be good for the benefiting party to remember they don't just have a roomie. This is particularly important if someone is single and actively dating. While a random person in a bathrobe drinking coffee in the kitchen when a family member is over makes for a great scene in a sitcom it would not be so funny in real life. Well it might be funny in someone elses life but not your life. If house guests are cool or not is a very personal discussion but you should have it early instead of late.

Also family generally want to have a lot more vision on each others whereabouts than roommates do. When I used to have roommates I worried about what it would seem like if something happened to them. They could be gone for a week or two and unless bills were due or something I wouldn't call them. I had a vision of a cop asking where they were and me being like "I think I saw him last Tuesday" and it not going well. At the various times I have been home as an adult; what we have done is that if we are going to be gone overnight we let the other person know where we will be. Just a phone call saying "I'm staying at Bob/Tom/Sally's place" was sufficient though I did try to call before 9pm. If the folks went somewhere they told me where also. Coming up with a workable plan for social arrangements isn't hard provided that you show some forethought and have an honest if slightly unpleasant conversation before things start coming up.

-Financial and household arrangements are next on the list. Just figure out who is going to pay for what. For the supporting party be advised that there will inevitably be some cost, if just utilities and a bit of food and not to get into this anything you can't afford comfortably. My observation is that in this area it isn't so much big picture stuff but little things that create problems. We aren't talking about hundreds of dollars in rent so much as who ate the last pepperidge farm chocolate chunk cookie and didn't buy more. The supporting party generally knows that the benefiting party needs help and they are willing to provide it. Also I think that if you have figured things out to the point where everyone knows who is supposed to replace the chocolate chunk cookies the big things like rent and utilities have long been covered.

I have two more thoughts on finances. First is if the supporting party has any sort of financial expectations for the supporting party they should make then clear. It might be paying off debt or saving to be independent, etc just lay it out in advance. The second thought is that (I'm not a lawyer so this is not legal advice and consider yourself disclaimed.) in a lot of places paying rent entitles a person legally to certain rights a house guest does not have. If things get bad that could turn out to be a real pain. Maybe there is a way they could help out with groceries or something and still be a house guest. If that is a concern (or you are looking at a real long term situation) then it might be worth talking to a lawyer.

In terms of household arrangements. Figure out space and if possible clear up some storage for stuff that exceeds said space. Spell out very clearly (not just 'help around the house') what you would like the benefiting party to do towards the total household workload.

- Lastly I think it is worth being clear on what circumstances and or time frame is going to bring an end to the cohabitation. This sort of ties in with the scenario under which the supporting party is willing to enter into this sort of thing. For example you might be cool with a full time student but aren't so cool with a student taking a class or two at a time with no real direction. At some point (and many articles have been written by people experiencing this) helping can definitely become enabling. Case in point I recently saw a guy I know who graduated with a BA two years ago and has been at home unemployed since. We all know a kid who graduated high school and just sort of hung out partying, sleeping a lot and playing video games until eventually the rents lay down the law. To risk being redundant it doesn't matter so much what the conditions here are but they should be well thought out, specific enough to be meaningful and understood by all parties involved.

Beyond the Great Recession I see this sort of unconventional family housing becoming more and more common. The numbers and demographics make it an easy call. Kids today on the non college option have serious problems. They used to get a low paying job then as they learn and gain some skills wages improve over time.  To be blunt this model is not working so effectively any more. It takes longer for most to move to a wage where they can live independently and some aren't moving there at all. When GM paid anybody the equivalent of $17.50 an hour and grocery stores paid living wages it was easy to get a job then an apartment and pretty quickly be middle class. Now the kinds of jobs many of these kids get make $9 with no benefits and little room for upward movement. Those who get into union, trade and tech jobs will likely fare the best.

Don't worry the college option (this reminds me of the game Life) isn't much better. When many folks take a bump down the ladder and there is high unemployment then hiring a person with a few years experience, or someone you had to let go when things were rough, over a kid just out of college is a no brainer. This plus student debt hitting record levels (somewhere over 20k on averagea terrible time to be young.

Don't worry the baby boomers some issues also. Many of the boomers are in serious trouble when it comes to retirement because they haven't saved a darn thing or in any case nowhere near enough. They saved like they have a cushy defined benefits retirement plan and social security is totally secure. As you may note they generally do not have a defined benefits retirement plan and getting social security (with decent purchasing power) is a long bet. To make matters worse instead of buying a modest home, paying it off and staying there like the Greatest Generation did they traded (while moving some distance or in the same area) their homes up several times and often tapped any equity which had been somehow accidentally created. The amount of people who are looking at retirement who do not have their primary residence paid off surprises me. On a whole lot of these retirements the math just doesn't work. In the economy we have now with older workers being expensive to employ, expensive to insure and absent from work more often they are likely to get laid off sooner instead of later. In any case it would be optimistic to assume they will be able to have full employment for as long as they want. Also along the surprising theme some boomers seem to be in la la land in terms of how long their money will last. They must be figuring on 20% annual growth in their money or something. These folks think they will be able to at least maintain their lifestyle forever when in reality they might be able to live a very basic subsistence existence.

Of course not all 20 and 30 somethings are boomeranging back home and plenty of 55-65 year olds did plan adequately for retirement. My point is that between those two groups the amount of people in a situation where unconventional family housing is necessary or desirable is going to dramatically rise. Best of all this scenario is if the economy keeps going more or less without significant changes. If the great recession gets worse and turns into the late 70's- early 80's or America's lost decade or even worse then all bets are off.

Along those same lines a TEOTWAWKI or significant security change could lead to a non economic motivation for this sort of thing. Even if you make a fine living or saved well for retirement it is pretty darn hard for a couple or a normal family with a couple teenagers to have decent 24/7 security; let alone have decent security and get anything done. Extended families and or friends would be well advised to gather at the best location they have available. I think it is worth putting some planning and forethought into this unconventional housing situation also. This however is a whole other series of posts for another day.

 Anyway I have been writing this off and on all day and it is way longer than my average post so I am not going to bother to carefully read it twice for small grammar and convention issues. Anyway I hope you enjoy it and maybe even get something out of it.

Goodnight and good luck

Saturday, November 20, 2010

When Are You Done Preparing?

FerFAL was recently asked the interesting question "When Are You Done Preparing?". I found the question interesting and it sort of stuck in my head. I don't disagree with FerFAL's answer but I do see it from a different perspective. Here is how I see it.

It is worth discussing the difference between maintenance and growth (though not strictly money, also time, energy, etc) of your preps. Maintenance of your preps would be stuff like rotating foodstuffs, practicing to keep your skills fresh, etc. Growth would be stuff like increasing your food storage, learning a new skill, taking a class, buying guns, gear, etc.

I think a certain amount of maintenance is necessary lest your food goes bad, your equipment degrades and your skills atrophy. You've got to rotate food and clean weapons. Car kits and GHB's need to be periodically inventoried and have perishable contents rotated. Even the best shot will get rusty if he doesn't touch a handgun for a year. Personally I wouldn't classify this kind of maintenance as continual preparations. Now that we have that covered.

To the fundamental question "when are you done preparing?" I would reply "preparing for what?" Everyone has different concerns and worst case scenarios they are preparing for. If we imagine white being a very limited power outage and black being a full on genuine One Second After/ Mad Max/ Jericho TEOTWAWKI scenario there are almost infinite shades of grey in between. What you are preparing for has a lot to do with when/ if you can ever be done.

Lets say you are an average guy who lives on the Gulf or southern Atlantic coast. You are justifiably concerned about a hurricane. You know it can be difficult to get fuel in the run up to evacuation time so you keep a half dozen 5 gallon cans in the shed and make sure your vehicle is topped off during hurricane season. You know that the smart thing to do is to leave and you've got a plan with your Uncle who lives a few hundred miles inland to come crash there. You have maps and alternate routes planned out just in case.

Since Katrina showed you that it can be weeks before help can arrive and services are restored you keep 90 days of shelf stable, easy to cook foodstuffs around. A couple extra propane cans will let you cook just about forever on the Coleman stove you use for camping. Keeping a few extra big boxes of batteries will let you run the various flashlights in your house for some time. For water you picked up a filter at the local camping store. After seeing the madness of Katrina you ordered 500 rounds of buckshot for your 12 gauge in addition to whatever hunting loads you have lying around. You also purchased a handgun with a few spare mags and a couple extra 100 rd white boxes from Walmart. Last year you stashed a few hundred dollars in the gun cabinet just in case. Could this guy say that he is done preparing? I think so. Of course there might be a small hole here or there but the broad strokes are covered and he is in a decent spot for the scenario he is concerned with.

Someone worried about a genuine full on Jericho style collapse is probably never going to be done. They will just move from more likely and immediate concerns such as 'how will we eat next winter' to the more obscure and unlikely 'how will my grandchildren make metal tools to replace those which wear out'. A person worried about this kind of scenario is always going to be thinking of something new and trying to deal with progressively more unlikely scenarios.

Personally I do not think I am every going to be done preparing. I am going to have times where the growth slows or stops until I get to another stage (buying a home, having more space, getting some land, etc) over time. However in the big picture over time I am going to progressively work from likely situations to more unlikely ones. It is more likely that we will have to ride out a short to mid term disaster then that we will suffer an EMP or a super aids bird flu pandemic. Assuming the world doesn't end in a few more years I will likely be focused almost exclusively on relatively unlikely scenarios. It is just my nature to want to improve my situation.

It is the very last day to enter our Awesome Ammo Giveaway Contest. Hurry up and enter now so you can get a whole bunch of free ammo.

When are YOU going to be done preparing?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

quote of the day

"Everyone has unrealistic expectations, so no one is satisfied."

As with all generalizations this isn't entirely accurate but it does ring pretty darn true.  If you weigh 300 pounds then a bikini is not going to attract positive attention. If you make 20k a year then a 100 acres of productive land with water, trees and a nice big house isn't realistic. Starting with realistic expectations is a good start to having a decent shot at happiness.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fantasy vs Reality

It occurred to me just a minute ago how much of a role fantasy plays in survivalism/ preparedness.

Part of it is that while we don't want to admit it preparedness is in many ways a hobby. Yeah it could be real important some day but on a normal everyday basis it is a thing we allocate resources and time to because it gives us enjoyment/ entertainment in some form or another. In that respect it is not so different than being in a softball league or bass fishing or stamp collecting or any other hobby. Seriously you can sharp shoot that statement all day long but it has at least some truth.

We can also want to be vindicated and thus entertain very specific worst case scenarios that let what we like and prepare for shine. A guy with a super fancy tricked out rifle envisions it saving his life and whatever. A guy with a closet full of Mosin Nagants imagines arming/ forming a large neighborhood guard or a militia. An avid gardener imagines their massive crop feeding the whole neighborhood. A person with great preps envisions being able to be the neighborhood hero. Somebody who has an awesome "retreat" but debt up to their eyeballs sees things falling apart and them being in a great position.

More concerning is the inverse of this fantasy worst case scenario. Simply put by focusing too heavily on this tailor made scenario they ignore a variety of other scenarios, much to their detriment. The guy with a super fancy rifle who also doesn't have any food ignores the possibility that we will not be attacked by a bunch of thugs and will sit there bored and very hungry. Instead of another sweet mil spec wanna be accessory he should get some frickin food. The very nice friendly gardener lady (The ones who go whole hog preparedness but totally ignore defense tend to be women) ignores the distinct possibility that she could need to protect herself from violence or theft. Somebody might want all of her food instead of a basket full or they might even want her. Instead of another garden bed she should buy and learn to use a defensive firearm. The guy with a basement full of preps doesn't have any savings. He somehow sees complex and unlikely worst case scenarios playing out but not say an unexpected emergency car or home repair. I wonder how these guys plan to push a homeless guy cart around with a years worth of food and a dozen guns in it after a fairly normal life event leads to their financial situation falling apart. 

The guy with the awesomely setup and well stocked retreat but debt up to his eyeballs sees scenarios where his debt is almost magically washed away but he still has all the cool stuff and preps. This guy is probably the most idealistic and fantasy fueled of all. He is almost wishing for (a narrowly and conveniently defined) TEOTWAWKI. He talks about how the "sheeple" will get their due and he will finally get to live free and untroubled by money concerns. He really thinks it would be great to not have to pay back the guys who loaned him the money for the land and the house and all the stuff. He thinks about how his sucky money situation would be washed away but fails to see that in significant ways people who have never even heard of preparedness but just keep their financial houses in order are probably more likely in the long run to have good outcomes than he. Instead of looking at his massive mortgage (possible an ARM) he sees a wonderful "retreat" on a nice piece of productive land and instead of a huge visa bill he sees a pair of night vision goggles and a pair of cool rifles. 

When doing a final edit on this I  realized that in all but one of the above scenarios the individual was specifically identified as a man. This wasn't conscious but is definitely significant. Upon 5 seconds of reflection I realize something. Aside from the (predominantly liberal and pseudo environmentalist) woman who make great preparations in many ways but completely ignore protecting themselves; women tend to take a pragmatic and realistic stance toward preparedness. It is us guys who seem to fall into these at least partially fantasy fueled preparations.

I am certainly not going to claim perfection. I have fallen into a stereotype or two myself as I started with a pretty solid gun collection and went from there. However as time goes by I am allocating a majority of my resources in a more reasonable manner which is the goal.

It is fine to day dream now and then. Just don't take the next step and focus too heavily on scenarios that involve buying toys you like, hobbies you enjoy or happen to just work out real conveniently for you. At a minimum at least consider your vulnerability to scenarios that do not happen to be tailor made to your interests and position. I urge you to be realistic and prepare for a variety of scenarios, not just the one that happens to be convenient and ideal.

Monday, May 24, 2010

One Thing That Has Been Bothering Me

Why is it that some folks seem to think the first thing to do if you get into survivalism as an adult is to pull every penny you have out of retirement and put it into preps? It reads like a worn out record. "I saw the light and immediately pulled every penny I had out of retirement and bought food, guns, etc."

This bothers me for a lot of reasons. First it is more emotional than rational. People see (legitimately) a threat and this is their knee jerk reaction. Just like a super fast halfway from the hip "point shot" it is almost always a miss. To continue my shooting analogy they would be better off to get a half a shooting stance or at least bring the gun level and the front sight onto the target before squeezing the trigger.

Second I have an issue with this plan because it is almost binary. It eludes to there being only two options, normal life and TEOTWAWKI. The unfortunate fact is that life is not that simple. You can definitely get a mix. A great example is Katrina. I am sorry to tell you this but in terms of realistic worst case 'survivalist' scenarios this is about as bad as it gets. For several weeks things were completely screwed. Not killing your neighbor over Krispix or all Mad Max but pretty screwed all the same. Assuming he wasn't stupid enough to stay right on the coast or in New Orleans proper a guy who had enough food and water to be comfortable and maybe some to share with the neighbors, batteries to run a radio and a couple flashlights and a couple guns with some spare ammo things were manageable. After awhile things got back to normal. In 20 years that guy who was well rewarded for having plenty of food, water, fuel, a couple/ few guns and ammo is going to sure want to stop working. So for a period your life can be completely screwed and then it can go back to normal.

As much as it is nice to think you will be richly rewarded for cases upon cases of canned food and rows full of buckets of dried goods and cases of ammo that may not be the case. Food and bullets are great and all but will not pay a mortgage or property taxes or buy a tank of gas. Do consider the question of "what will this do to me if the world doesn't end?"

I do not gamble. Not saying you are bad if you do but it just isn't me. Even aside from all games being rigged to give the house an edge it just isn't me. For example if you think it is 51% likely that the world will genuinely end is it smart to put your whole darn nest egg towards that? What about that other 49%. However if you honestly believe 51% that a full on genuine end of the world Mad Max scenario is going to happen I would submit that either you have a screw loose or have some information (prison planet type stuff doesn't count) I have not seen. Our world might get a bit crazy now and then or even change in significant ways but digging a fighting position in the front yard or bayoneting your neighbor to protect your canned goods is probably not so likely.

Any financial adviser worth the title will say that unless you can absolutely avoid it raiding retirement accounts is the absolute last thing you want to do. While it is true that I would not ask their opinions on storing wheat in buckets or pooing in a bucket I also think it is equally imprudent to let a survivalist tell you what to do with your money or how to plan for retirement.  Of course a "survival expert" will say you should put all your eggs into that. Kinda how guys who work at Motor Trend probably think you should spend more money on a car than is prudent or guys from Gaming Laptop probably like gigabytes and ram more than they do your pocket book.

Of course if you have a few bucks just sitting around putting it towards preps isn't a bad idea. Raiding the money you plan to live on in old age however is just a bad idea. For most people the money maker is going to be selling off unnecessary toys (swap an old dirt bike for a good rifle, etc) and cutting/ changing your lifestyle to create money to go towards preparedness.

I plan for things going all crazy AND the world going on more or less normally with me getting older and wanting to work less or not at all. I think you should do the same.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Risk Assessment

Discussion on my post a couple days ago made me feel like expounding on something. At work we do risk assessments. [To be honest they are almost always a bunch of BS. For example lots of people die in vehicle accidents, mostly because they are tired and have been driving for too long. Instead we create "controls" like radio checks and assistant drivers instead of actually making sure the drivers get a good nights sleep and have them switch out or split real long non mission essential (say 3rd ID's march to Baghdad) drives into more realistic and manageable sections. Anyway tangent finished.] Anyway what is important is to consider not just how severe the impact of a certain scenario would be, but HOW LIKELY IT IS. The chart below is a good visual for this.

The values for likelihood are pretty easy to conceptualize. You could define the values for severity/ impact in pretty much any logical way. In terms of physical injuries I would say minimal would be something that could be fully treated by a normal person with a modest first aid kit. Minor might be something requiring medical attention, say a few stitches or a sprained ankle. Major could be needing hospitalization. Serious might be limb or eyesight and catastrophic would be death. Follow where I am going.

So lets get back to that hurricane. If you live in the coastal south east a hurricane is a highly likely scenario. If you live in Colorado a hurricane is extremely improbable.

A flat tire is probably a minimal impact (unless you are ill equipped and on a lonely road during a blizzard) but it is a near certainty. I imagine over the course of most peoples lives they will have at least a few flat tires. Thus to that guy living in Colorado it makes sense to prepare more for a flat tire than a hurricane even though the impact of a hurricane would be major (of course it would vary by hurricane and how those individuals fare in it but just go with me) and the impact of the flat tire would be minimal.

Getting struck by lightning would really suck. Unless you make a habit of standing on top of really tall stuff or waving around metal poles in open fields during lightning storms the likelihood of getting struck by lightning is extremely improbable. Thus there isn't much reason to worry about getting struck by lightning.

To me it makes sense to look at how likely a situation is and how severe the impact would be when figuring out what scenarios to allocate our time and resources towards preparing for. This is why I see something like say, a financial emergency or a robbery/ home invasion as more pressing than Zimbabwe style hyperinflation or those Russian troops the UN has secretly been sneaking into the US coming to your neighborhood to enforce the edicts of the UN/ Trilateral Commission/ Illuminati/ Bildenberg's.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

quote of the day

"You've got to realistically look at what preps you need and what you can afford. Then figure out what's "good enough" and fits your budget."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Justification For Lethal Force, Reality, Fantasy and Worst Case Scenarios

I was searching through the archives today to find the How To Not Get Killed In a Riot post and stumbled back into this gem which touches on lethal force, ethics and applied ballistics. That got me to thinking about lethal force. Not the use of it, I am pretty solid on that. Thinking of old lessons I learned on the justification of it. Not like moral justification but the kind of legal justification that lets you (maybe after some difficulty) go back to your home and life instead of to a small square cement room.

Here is the place for a disclaimer. I am not a lawyer or a cop or a judge or anything like that. Do not take my advice blindly for anything more serious than choosing a restaurant, seeing a movie or buying a book. I am right a lot of the time but at the end of the day you are an adult who will face the consequences of your own decisions so do some independent research. 

The three basic use of force criteria are ability, opportunity and jeopardy. Instead of bothering to write about them I found this accurate and concise article. A couple of quick thoughts on these basic criteria. When it comes to ability, sticks and stones killed people quite well for a very long time and can still do so. A whack in the neck or head with a rock or stick can kill you just as easy as it did many a cave man. Also ability favors women (for a good reason) because the ability of an average woman to physically defend their self from an average man, let alone some monster that makes Tank Abbott look small and friendly. The benefit of this is that a woman can jump very quickly to lethal force and be entirely justified. FWIW I have never heard of a woman who is not involved in a criminal enterprise (crack house) shooting a man who she did not know (domestic stuff gets weird in courts) that forced their way into a residence getting into trouble.

Just keep in mind that these will still apply in anything but a full on genuine TEOTWAWKI you will be legally held accountable for your actions. You can't shoot someone who cuts a fence or steals a chicken or whatever. To my knowledge only Texas has laws that allow lethal force in defense of property and that law is really not something I personally would want to bet my life on. Best case it would be a big hassle and cost a small fortune in lawyer fees, and that is without a trial. The last place you want to ride out a bad situation is jail. Your family are better off having you and the shotgun but no chicken or whatever.

One nice law that has gotten a lot of press recently is the Castle Doctrine. It varies somewhat by state but the general theme is that if someone forces their way into your home in the commission of a crime and endangers you then lethal force is authorized without the need to retreat or whatnot. I think this goes a longer way towards helping people make a reasonable decision not get hassled than anything else. Again I would urge you not to shoot someone over stuff. It really just isn't worth the hassle, that is what insurance is for.

The Castle Doctrine might not sound like a lot but it is a huge deal. It can be the difference between going to prison and going home or at a minimum having a long drawn out expensive trial and being wide open to lawsuits or a minimal hassle. I consider the Castle Doctrine almost as important as good concealed carry laws such as shall issue or Vermont carry.

We have all heard the phrase "shoot, shovel and shut up". Heck I have probably said it a few times myself. A person in an isolated area that shot an intruder or whatever who wouldn't be missed, buried them, got rid of their vehicle (they didn't walk 40 miles to your place) and kept their mouth shut would almost surely get away with it. However aside from a lot of moral and potential legal implication that is a fairly qualified statement. Not something I personally would want to bet my life on (see a theme here?). Also if you think you could get away with that in a neighborhood or on anything but a huge piece of land far from any neighbors your crazy. An old truck parked on the side of a road a third of a mile from your place registered to a low life criminal who was reported missing (many dirt bags have someone who loves them) leads to some blanket questioning and a neighbor remembers 3 shotgun blasts then a backhoe firing up at your place a week back in the middle of the night. Now Mr. I'll shoot anyone who gits near my land's goose is cooked.

This case of a former New Orleans Detective pleading guilty in a Katrina shooting cover up is a harsh reminder that even in a legitimate regional SHTF you will likely be held accountable for your actions.

If you can not make a serious case for how a situation created the ability and opportunity for someone to put you or another person in legitimate jeopardy then force, let alone lethal force is a very poor decision. This isn't a big deal. A guy with a 2x4 yelling and moving toward you is a real threat at 5 paces. A person with a molotov cocktail anywhere near throwing range is a real threat. When we lived in The South I was gone a lot and we were in a legitimately scary area. I told Wifey if someone broke into our place and moved towards her in any fashion to shoot them, and she would have been entirely justified, also The South is pretty reasonable about that sort of stuff. 

Sorry to bring things back to boring reality instead of a world where you get to make your own rules and shoot just whoever you want.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Getting Started

So apparently my little sister reads the blog. She is wanting to get back to her paranoid roots and become a bit more prepared. Of course I wanted to write something which might help her. Also it got me thinking. What if some of my more political/ libertarian type readers who are not so into the preparedness/ survivalist side of the house wanted a decent place to start. Not everyone wants to buy guns or rifles and cases of ammo and enough food to live forever. Not everyone has a half dozen machetes in their closet in case of a zombie attack. Also more surprisingly some people don't even want them, they shirk the idea of being able to arm a Zombie killing squad to fight off the undead. Other folks say that while a Zombie Apocalypse is a low probability why not have a bit of insurance for less than the price of dinner out.

Anyway I wanted to think of a few simple things someone could do to become significantly more prepared than the average person. I wanted them to be low cost or revenue neutral and more importantly have little effect on ones overall lifestyle. There are lots of ways you can become drastically more prepared on little money if you are highly motivated and willing to accept significant lifestyle change. There are also lots of ways you can become very prepared if you have minimal acceptance for lifestyle changes but a lot of disposable income. My goal of being low cost and having little lifestyle change admittedly limits what sort of situation one can prepare for. Planning to ride out a Zombie apocalypse or a genuine full on Mad Max style end of the world in this manner is not realistic.

I wanted to limit it to a few basic things. Settled onto five with one that is almost a gimme. They are in no meaningful order.

1. The first is a good first aid kit. You might want to supplement its relatively shallow (but broad) inventory with some additional items. A big box of band aids, some neosporin or equivalent and a huge bottle of Tylenol/ ibuprofen would all be very useful. If you regularly use any OTC drugs then keep an extra bottle around. Know how to use this stuff. Get a book on it or take a class if need be.

Seriously this one is an underhand pitch. Most houses should have a decent first aid kit now and this simple stuff isn't rocket science. However I have heard stories of people waiting in line in front of hospitals after hurricanes for band aids and simple bandages. Having the ability to take care of basic common injuries yourself is essential.

In terms of impact I would say this one should cost about $30 and take a trip to the store. If you somehow made it to this point in life without being in scouts or the military or taking a first aid class then find one. They can generally be had at very reasonable costs and will probably take between part and all of a day.

2. Food. This is pretty easy. The good thing is that done properly it will SAVE YOU MONEY. Your goal is to build up a surplus of shelf stable foods you normally eat. Think of it as running your car on a full tank instead of fumes. You are going to pay a few bucks more right away but in the end it does not cost you more. In fact having  a decent surplus of food allows you to wait for sales and then buy a bit more at lower cost.

For example if you have no food in the house and want to make something you will need to purchase all of the ingredients. It doesn't matter if they are on sale or not because without them there isn't going to be dinner. Now lets say that you have a few spares of every ingredient for this meal. Knowing that you do not need an item this time allows you to wait (they seem to be on cycles) until items come on sale and buy more of them. When you get far enough 'ahead' to be able to wait for sales on most items the grocery bill will plummet.

There are many reasons you might need to have some food stored at home. Floods, ice storms, blizzards and hurricanes can all interrupt our normal supply system and leave us to feed ourselves, at least for awhile. If nothing else I think it is nice that when you just don't want to go to the store there is something to eat for dinner. Also being able to make a dish or recipe when you suddenly run out of a key ingredient because there is a spare is a great feeling.

How much food to have? Building up to two weeks worth of food is easy enough to do and many have it just in their cupboards now. This is enough to get through most short term events like natural disasters or what not. A month might take some intentional effort but is solidly practical. Katrina showed that if a disaster is regional instead of local it might well take longer for normal resupply to happen. A months worth of food would at least give you some solid breathing room to think about what to do next.

This one doesn't cost much but is a constant effort albeit a low intensity one. You are going to need to build up a decent supply of foods you eat regularly and rotate that supply to make sure it stays fresh. Sorry there just isn't a way around it. You do want to be able to eat don't you?

3. Water. Water is important for drinking, hygiene and cooking. Storing some water makes sense. Either use hard plastic jugs like 2 liter soda bottles or big juice containers. Also those blue square water jugs from Walmart work well. Being able to purify water would be very useful. Iodine tablets and preparations to boil water are good to have also. Storing two weeks worth of water or more if you live in a dry area is reasonable.

In terms of impact if you drink lots of soda or juice the cost is nil. If you go out and pick up some of those blue jugs from Walmart they are about $7 a piece and you will want two or ideally 4 per person.  Aside from rotating your water supply twice a year or so the impact is negligible.

4. Guns, Ammo and Mags. * If you do not own a useful defensive firearm I would strongly suggest getting one as soon as finances allow.* If you have a center fire pistol, a shotgun or a rifle of some sort you are ahead of the game. I am not even going to talk about what sort of gun you should own or buy, let alone what model. That isn't the point of this. You have a gun which will allow you to protect yourselves and your property, that is what matters. Your gun is useless without ammunition. Ammunition often sells out during disasters and as we noted not too long ago it can just vanish from shelves entirely for other reasons. Getting a couple hundred rounds of ammunition for your firearm will not make you king of the wondering tribe of punk rock dressed punks in a strange retro apocalypse but it will help ensure you can defend yourself in any halfway likely scenario.  Also purchase accessories like a holster, mag pouch, sling or magazines.

In terms of impact this will of course cost some money. Price depends on what kind of gun you have. For impact on your  everyday life there is none. Those boxes of ammo can sit in the closet until you need them. Hopefully you will not need them. Over the long run you will either want to put them into an ammo can or just rotate the supply. If you plan to go shooting buy a couple boxes of bullets and put them in the pile. Take a couple boxes from the pile to the range.

5. Cash. Cash is how we buy stuff. Even if the power is not on or the ATM system isn't working it would be good to have some cash around. $300 in ones fives and twenties is not going to charter you a jet if things get bad but it would get a few tanks of gas, maybe some food or a place to sleep for the night.

I consider the cost of this one negligible. Most of us have at least a few bucks set aside for emergencies/ savings anyway. Just store some of it at home instead of the bank. 

Is this plan perfect? No it is not. It definitely has some holes and such but I think it is a good place to start.

Friday, November 6, 2009

quote of the day

Text of the day: "there comes a time in your life where have to ask yourself "am I prepared for the zombie apocalypse?". and the answer is no, no I am not." - D

 Saw this on Maggy's Facebook page and stole it. 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint

Something my old Team Sergeant kept saying when we were in a sandy place. The point is very simple; when involved in a long difficult task you need to have some perspective and pace yourself. There is no way somebody can do 26.2 miles in a balls to the wall sprint. The same thing applies to preparadness.

I see this most often in people who have what could be called a preparadness epiphany and are sure the world as we know it is going to end in two weeks, a month at most. They are litterally putting every nickel they can find toward preps and cutting everything else to the bone and going balls to the wall in every available hour to get ready. These folks often get burned out very quickly or have other significant issues due to their allocation of money and time.

To be blunt if you have 0 preps and the world actually ends in a week you are screwed.  Even if you have oodles of cash to throw at the problem you probably won't have a clue how any of your stuff works or have thought of the little things like wicks for lanterns, etc.

Nothing you do this week (or really month)  is going to really drastically change your preparedness level. The key is not to make a big push this week or month but to take a long term approach so you are making consistent progress month in and month out. Better to get X preps every month than 1.5X preps one month and then nothing for a few then .75 preps another month then a couple more off then 1X preps again. 

Think of the tortoise and the hare. The  tortoise  made consistent progress while the hare made fast progress and then messed around for awhile, etc. (thanks for pointing that one out Mike)

Also with this intentional measured approach you do not need to sacrifice completely. By figuring what you can consistently afford to put to preps (I speak mostly of money because it is most peoples biggest limiting factor but this applies to time, etc also). You can get that new TV or whatever if you need one or take that trip to the coast as long as you put X towards preps.

My advice is to take a big picture look at things and make a plan that is maintainable for the long term. Figure out how much time, money and energy you can realistically put towards preps FOR THE LONG TERM and stick with that. Now if you get a bonus or a big promotion or some other influx of cash by all means get some more preps but take a long term approach for your usual situation.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Prisons in SHTF

Our loyal correspondent Humongous sent me an email on this topic. He works in a Maximum Security Prison and wondered about my thoughts on what would happen if things went all SHTF. I do not have a ton of knowledge in this area but that hasn't stopped me from writing about all sorts of other topics so why should it be an issue for this one?

I think prisons fair more or less OK (I think some prisoners in Katrina had a rough time but not out of purportion to everyon else)  for short term and localized disasters. Just about everywhere has power outages and such so they have (at least I imagine) plans for that. As for local disasters I think bussing to somewhere else is pretty much the answer everywhere. That works if there is a flood in this region or the like.

For a slow slide sort of situation in general I think prisons would fair reasonably well. They are the kind of think that a government (at whatever level) would have to fund. When you are broke you stop eating out but keep buying toilet paper. The wildcard for this sort of situation is that political types could make radical changes is policies or early parole to drop their operational costs.

Me thinks a genuine full on TEOTWAWKI is what our correspondent was mostly thinking about. Broadly speaking I think there are 3 possible options: 1) The prisoners dehydrate/starve/freeze to death in their cells. 2) The prisoners leave the prison and are free. 3) The prisoners are intentionally killed by the guards. I will talk a bit more about each of these broad options a little bit.

1. In my opinion this is probably the least likely scenario. Unless all the prisoners are securely locked in old school small cement cells with heavy metal bars and all the guards decide simultaneously to just go home this would not happen. This would be somewhat probable for an individual or two in a small isolated local jail if the deputy who was on duty was for whatever reason unable to return.

2. This scenario is the most likely in the big picture though it would depend on some other factors. It is also the most likely because it is the most openly defined. In this scenario the prisoners could be freed or escape. I would not be supprised that if a lot of lower security facilities ended up turning the prisoners loose. As for the more dangerous prisoners in more secure facilities me thinks their large scale freedom would be the result of an escape. I think in the security area older prisons would face far better than newer ones as they tended to rely on lots of metal and big walls not security systems and electric fences which rely on power.

In a prison with lowered security because of less/ no power the odds of prisoner escape would be high. Also if prisoners had enough info about what was going on outside to come up with a plan and execute it knowing the guards could not hunker down and wait for help it could get ugly. Most likely I see a combination of those two factors leading to most of the prison breaks.

3. The guards intentionally kill the inmates. I do not see this happening at minimum security jail camps and such. This one would need a couple of conditions for it to come to pass. First of all the facility would need to have the capability to keep inmates controlled in their small cells for awhile regardless of their desperate attempts to free themselves. Second of all the person in charge (might not be the head guy but the one on the scene who is functionally in charge) would need to have a grasp of the true seriousness of the event they were involved in and the implications for letting these violent dangerous criminals loose in a world without law and order. This would take a combination of being pragmatic and a really cold hearted mother fucker. Third the guards who were left (some would not show up and some might abandon their posts with useful equipment and guns) would have to have the means to kill the inmates in a not up close and personal manner, basically guns and enough ammo to do the job. That shouldn't be a big issue unless someone has already cleared out the gun cabinet and or ammo storage on their way out for the last time. I think that in more conservative areas with more of a law and order type philosophy there would probably be more dead violent prisoners than escaped violent prisoners.

I could see the guards potentially separating the non total psycho inmates and putting them on their way then making sure the real nut jobs never get out.

As for what I think would go down by and large. Prisoners in minimum and medium security facilities would mostly go free be it by jumping over the fence or walking with their personal belongings through the front gate. For maximum security prisons I think it would be more likely to see a combination of escape attempts (large or small, peaceful or violent)  and mass executions. Also a few would probably have one botched by the other and darn near everybody ending up dead. Maybe the inmates make a go of it and a guard in a good position with a rifle takes a lot of them out or the guards try to make like it is the bloody days of the French Revolution and the inmates rush them and do some real damage.

I do know that JWR considers prisons in his regional/ local retreat advice and this makes a lot of sense to me. Do not make a mistake of underestimating them because they would be poorly equipped. Pretty darn quick these predators would arm themselves and most would start reaking havoc.

I would not want to live near a prison (I say prison intentionally there are jails all over the place) say within a 40 mile radius of one.

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